Archive | October, 2016

All dogs go to heaven

24 Oct

all-dogs-1024

I’ve always been a dog lover.  As a kid I had a Dogs Annual Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds and  I literally memorized most of them.  My soft spot for dogs is similar to chocolate for some or football for others.

We had some great dogs growing up and after  years of wanting my own dog the time was finally right and so six years ago I got Millie a West Highland Terrier.   She is very cute, athletic, loves to watch TV (and bark at every dog and horse who dare come into our living room), follows me everywhere I go (she only sleeps if I am sitting still), extremely smart, territorial with certain dogs and is 100% obsessed with me (and squirrels).  Other than me going away or doing social things she can’t come to – we literally spend 24 hours a day together as she comes to work with me, sleeps with me and goes to parties, visiting, etc.  My cousin nicknamed her ‘The Diana Ross of Dogs’ as she is a bit of a diva.   When I got Millie I started to take her to a school yard around the corner from where I lived as I heard there was a group a people who congregate there at 7 am with their K9 sidekicks.  Every morning, Monday to Friday for the 3 years I lived in that neighbourhood in the sun/wind/snow or rain I would stand on the field with my dog friends.   There was a real mish mash of young, middle aged, older, men, women, weirdo’s and normal (somewhat) folks.  Not as extreme as Best in Show.  We had a lot of solid laughs over the years as we stood there freezing our butts off, picking up dog poop and chatting about what was happening in each others lives.  John would make fun of Ray and Judy who were neurotic about their dog.  I would tell them ferocious tales of dating and travelling the world.  One friend I made was Simon and his dog Roo- the two of them had a very evident bond.  Roo was never on a leash as the only thing he was interested in was following Simon around.    Roo was kind of a complicated dog and so we nicknamed him Jimmy Melvin (Jimmy Melvin is a local notorious criminal).  For any of you reading this who grew up watching Canadian television Roo reminded me a lot of  The Littlest Hobo.  He would mostly only let Simon touch him (but after about a year he started to trust me and would let me give him a pat).   Simon is also quite a character and so the two of them were a match made in heaven.  I’ve heard Simon speak to Roo just like he was a human buddy trotting along beside him.  It seems they were both just what the other one needed.  My brother and family got a puppy this summer and so my sister-in-law brings him to the same school yard I used to go to.  She has gotten to know some of my old pals  She told me Roo wasn’t feeling well last week and so Simon has been on my mind.  As I mentioned I take Millie to work with me and now that Preston is part of the family I walk to my brothers house and take him to work with us – Simon and Roo live a few blocks from them.  I have a route I take, but this morning I decided to change it up and along the way ran into Simon (this kind of stuff happens to me all the time).  I haven’t run into Simon on the street in months and months and if I had taken my normal way I wouldn’t have run into him.  Of course I asked him straight away how Roo was and he sadly told me Roo had to be put down on Saturday.  We had a moment on Vernon Street. Completely heartbreaking.  I’ve been thinking about them all day.

The friendship you have with your dog is so special.  Who else is excited to see you after you’ve only been gone for 4.5 minutes.  Who else can come put their head on your lap while you are on the toilet?  Who else goes to bed when you do and wakes up when you do?  Who else wants to go everywhere you go?  Who else wants to protect you from any threat (even if it is a 8lb Yorkie wearing a pink jacket)?   Who else wants to watch you fold laundry?  Who else wants likes whatever you like on TV?  Who else forgives you within minutes after scolding them?  Who else never criticizes you?  Who else likes your taste in music all the time?   Who else gets sad every-single-time you go away?  As they say, not every person knows how to love a dog, but every dog knows how to love a person.

The only problem with having a dog is that it is very likely that you will outlive them.  Millie promised me that she would live to at least 15 and we shook her paw on it.  A few weeks back I was at my Mom and Dads house and made the fatal error of watching Marley and Me (I’ve read the book but never saw the movie in its entirety).  I was a sobbing mess which caused Millie and my parents dog to come running to me wondering what was wrong – I had one laying on top of me and one staring at me as I sniffed away.  As Simon said this morning he can’t even think of getting another dog anytime soon as Roo was his solid companion and he was so unique that he will never find another dog like him.

Having a dog not only brings you the friendship you have with your dog, but it brings so many other people into your life.  Over the course of the 6 years I’ve had Millie I’ve made many friends through her.  Babies and dogs make it socially acceptable to chat with a complete stranger.  Simon, my friend,  I am glad Roo brought you to the dog park and I got to know the both of you.

All that we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we have deeply loved becomes part of us –  Helen Keller.

Authenticity: the courage to be yourself

21 Oct

self-pic

Earlier this week I attended a women’s empowerment/networking event and directly after that I scooted over to a fundraiser where a famous Canadian cook book author was speaking.  I didn’t think the two events would collide topic wise but they did.  The author didn’t speak about creating recipes or testing them – she focussed on talking about loving yourself, believing in yourself, following your instincts and having a sense of humor along the way.  She continued to talk about the psychology of getting skinny/being skinny – it is a whole lot harder to do when you have negative thoughts in your head about yourself and you’re hanging onto things that happened to you in the past.

I was born with a very large mole on the side of my face.  Not just a flat one, but a raised one with hair and a nice brown ring around it which made it even bigger.  Awesome, just what you want on your cheek.   I had a very special grandfather – he was a big gentle giant type and even though he passed away suddenly when I was 7,  I can still clearly remember him.  He would tell me that my mole was my beauty mark and it made me different from others.  I believed him.  I also have 3 older brothers who loved to, ummm, what words should I use, mentally torture me when we were kids.  After Grandpa passed away I only recall hearing them say I had shit on the side of my face and a rat was going to come gnaw it off when I was sleeping.  Kids would point in the grocery store and ask their parents ‘What is on her face?’  The parents would say ‘shhhh’ and awkwardly steer their finger pointing kid away.  I ended up having the mole taken off when I was 13 as it presented quite a risk for skin cancer  (and I hated it).  As much as I hated that mole it helped me develop a thick skin at a young age and also feel empathy towards others who looked a little different.   I hit puberty pretty early and when it hit I got big boobs and some blubber overnight.  That blubber has not been easy to lose.  I love food – I get great JOY from a delicious meal shared with others.  My metabolism isn’t the same as some of my girlfriends who can seemingly eat whatever they want, not exercise a whole lot and still be a size 4.  A few years ago when I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro I lost 5 pounds.  Yup.  Everyone else was like ‘oh my god I can barely keep my pants up with the training and then 6 days on the mountain’.  I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others who are not like me.  I walk at least 8 km a day: if I wanted to be a size 4 and not an 8,  I would have to run 20 km a day, only eat air or maybe get a tape worm.  But then I wouldn’t have big boobs and would probably wish I had bigger ones as it seems girls who are flat want some.  So you know what, I still have a scar on my face from that mole,  I have big boobs and a bit of a muffin top, but I try to love what I got and work with it.  There are so many other more important things to think about.  And honestly, I always find girls who are overly concerned with what they eat and what they look like… boring and not all that much fun anyway.

I also have a very loud voice.  My parents, in fact, thought I was deaf when I was kid and took me to get my hearing tested.  Nope, I clearly heard all of the buzzes and beeps that the audiologist tested me with.  My hearing is fine.  My voice is just loud or as teachers would put it nicely ‘it projects well’.  In grade 3 we had an old Battle-axe substitute teacher for a few weeks as Mrs MacDoanld (our oh so lovely teacher) had a pneumonia.  This was just before our Christmas concert which was such an enormously exciting night for someone like me – getting up on a stage was my jam.  We had to rehearse our songs with the mentioned Battle-axe.  So we got into our spots and started to sing.  She stopped everyone and pulled me out.  She had my class continue to sing without me.  At the end she said something like ‘that is how the songs are supposed to sound.  You are too loud and you’re ruining it’.  Just as I can recall my Grandpa making me feel so special – I can also recall clearly how small and completely embarrassed she made me feel.  But ya’ want to know what… I shook it off because even at that young age I recognized that her opinion was not one I respected and my Mom/Dad would have told me to just go and be yourself – she doesn’t matter.   I went to that Christmas concert in a dress that I loved (I’ve always had a love for fashion) and I sang my bloody heart out.

I’ve always loved to talk. I have a fascination with other people and love learning new things.  As a kid I was told to be quiet.  A lot.  You know that old rule about children should be seen and not heard.  That rule stinks. I used to love going visiting with my Mom as I got to hear and participate in adult conversations.  In fact, I did a speech for 4-H when I was maybe 12 called Born to Talk and that speech won me a provincial championship.   It seems my loud voice (which projects well) is great for public speaking and my love of talking is too.  Yeah baby!   When I feel my most authentic self it is when I am connecting with others and having great conversation.  I am not quiet and being quiet doesn’t bring me contentment.

I really enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert.  Not the Eat, Prey, Love stuff (I didn’t even get through the eating end of things), but some of her guest articles and blog entries really get me jazzed.  One in particular had me nodding while I was reading it.  Life isn’t about what happens to you. Life is about how you perceive and react to what happens to you.  A lot of the things which I was criticized for as a kid are my greatest assets as an adult.  I generally care little about what others think about me – after all what you think of yourself is far more important than what others think about you.   I choose to spend time with people who like to build others up (that includes my brothers – they don’t mentally torture me anymore) and not the types who tell people what they ‘should be like’.  Unsolicited advice from people who are not inspiring is never beneficial.   Yesterday the CEO of the organization I work for (who is someone I greatly admire for always being true to who she is) posted a great quote and it reminded me of a quote I love by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.”

So ladies and gentlemen (that’s right this isn’t just for women).   The last page of O Magazine is always a column by Oprah called What I Know For Sure.  I will close this in Oprah Style.  What I know for sure is: that we all have insecurities, we all have body bits which we don’t love and we’ve all had cruddy things happen to us.  But we all have amazing and unique bits about us, we all have totally gorgeous parts of us and we’ve all had wonderful things happen to us.  The more you focus on your talents, what you like about yourself and the positive things in your life – the more confident you will feel, the sexier you will look and I can guarantee amazing things will continue to happen to you.  As I was told so many times before- just be yourself. If you have kids hammer that into their heads.  Your life is your story.  Make it one others want to read.

 

Here comes the bride…

18 Oct

Choose-Choice.jpgI love weddings.  Love + friends + family + food + wine + dancing = a great time in my books.  Both my mother and father come from very large families and so going to weddings was always part of my childhood.   One summer there was something like 7 of Mom’s first cousins got married.  That big family is still there and added to the mix is lots of friends from all of my various avenues in life.   At this stage in the game weddings are an awesome way to get together with friends and family – it doesn’t end up being just about the bride and groom as it is a reunion of sorts for guests as people now live all over the world.  I was at a wedding this past weekend and it was a roar.   As I was pulling a ‘slide out to bed’ from the after party I heard some of the guys (who are now married, have children and had consumed copious amounts of alcohol) reminiscing about days gone by.  ‘Sean, do you remember when you shit in my bathtub?’ followed by  ‘Do you remember when Andrew shit in my bbq?’.  Upon hearing this I was certain it was a great time to go to bed.

Getting married is very different than it used to be.   In the past people got married young and typically would tie the knot with someone who lived down the road from them or went to the same school.  Someone who was compatible enough, came from a decent family, and let’s be honest, so they could have sex.  Fast forward to present day – we get married later, women have their own finances and their own properties so we are not living at home pining to move out of Mom/Dads house, the church does not dictate what we chose to do or not do, we own fewer farms and have less children.   We can live anywhere we want in the world.  And toss in the old World Wide Web and suddenly we have access to people from all over the bloody world from our living rooms.  About 10 years ago my best friend (who grew up in the same rural community as I did) and I were having a conversation about this topic.  We said ‘Can you imagine marrying someone from our elementary school? Who would you pick?’  If I recall correctly,  I chose one of the O’Brien boys who always reminded me of Chris Isaac and Sarah chose a redhead from over the road who is now a surgeon.  We both went older – I went for looks and she went for brains.  But the notion of it had us roaring with laughter.  I am reading a book right now called Modern Romance and it talks about this subject.  Is the notion of having too many choices too much?  When I think of this I think of my parents living room.  Growing up there were only say 2 places to get furniture from.  When my Mom needed a new piece of furniture (we never had all new furniture at once as they saved enough money to buy what they needed at that time vs using to credit to do over everything all at once).  She would go to town, sit in a few chairs and make a decision.  Now, on the other hand, we can order furniture from a 100 different places.  And we need to look on Instagram, Pinterst, Houzz  and magazines to get inspiration.  We end up spending hours and hours and hours looking, searching, deciding and wondering IS THIS the right chair or will I see something better somewhere else?  Do we end up anymore satisfied in the end?   I would think less as the damn chair is so nice and you put so much time into finding it that you don’t want your kids, pets or anyone eating food or drinking wine to come near it in fear of it getting dirty.

Maybe that could be true for relationships too. We have so many choices now that we are overwhelmed by the options.  I remember when one of my brothers was first seeking a nanny to look after his kids.  Of course they had visions of Mary Poppins floating into their house. Someone who could cook, clean, sing, dance, be patient, creative and give a little bit of sugar to help the medicine go down.  In reality, they got a very mixed bag of applicants and by the end of it I heard my brother say ‘Mary Poppins does not exist… especially for 12 bucks an hour’.  Instead, they found someone who was reliable and trustworthy.  Writing that line has brought memories of that nanny.  I could easily write a blog about her- she was something else.    Here is a favorite memory of her.  She walked in on a Monday morning and I asked her how her weekend was (not sure why I did as listening to the answer was always a lesson in torture).  There was ALWAYS something massively negative which followed… flu,  113 (or some crazy number) of hours in emergency, didn’t sleep, rabbit was sick.    On that particular Monday it was especially foul as she replied ‘it was terrible I found out my brother is actually my father.’  Bam.  The next Monday she showed up with a eye patch on.  I didn’t ask how her weekend was that day.   She is single.  Moving on and getting back on topic now.  Just like Mary Poppins perhaps Mr Perfect or Ms Perfect does not exist.

Choices, choices, choices, choices.  I recently had a big work event and I had in my mind that I wanted to wear a red dress.  When I get something in my mind I can’t settle.  I just can’t.  I looked in all the local stores, I looked online, I looked in local stores, I looked online… I saw one dress I really liked, but didn’t order it right away as I kept on looking for other options and so when I finally decided that was the THE ONE – my size was out of stock. I missed out as I had so many options I couldn’t make a bloody decision.  I wore a black dress.  A perfectly nice black dress.  And I will be able to wear it again unlike the Oscar worthy red one I had in my mind which was impractical and likely would have cost another $100 in alterations.  I could have done better things with the time I spent contemplating.  I recently read that President Obama only wears grey or blue suits.  He doesn’t like to make decisions about what he wears or eats as he has too many decisions to make – so he limits his choices.

Perhaps we need to be like Obama and scale back on the amount of decisions we need to make.  Keep it simple.  Maybe I should pop over to the houses of some of the boys from elementary school…

 

 

How did you become you?

13 Oct

brain

For those of you who don’t know me well you should know that I love people.  Understanding them, analyzing them, observing them, laughing at them, wondering about them and of course impersonating them.  I see people on a daily basis who make me wonder – how in the world did you become you?

There is a lady who burns around Spring Garden Road on a scooter.  She drives that thing as aggressively as Mario Andretti drives his race car.  I see her pretty often so I have encounters with her on the regular.  There doesn’t seem to be an apparent aliment or mental illness, but man she is a ticket.  One day I was walking with Millie when she stopped her scoot to ask me what kind of dog Millie is.  She reached down to pet Millie and at the same time let out a massive belch.  She said ‘Oh man, I’ve been having bad gas.  From both ends’.  And she peeled away.  How did Joan become Joan?

There have been a lot of tourists in Halifax recently due to cruise ships having scheduled stops and some diverted due to hurricanes in the US.  I spotted one couple who really turned my head.  They were BOTH wearing solar shields (you know those big ugly sunglasses with panels on the side that make everyone look terrible), his and hers track suits and she had on a fanny pack.  How in the world did those two people a) find each other b) toss away any sense of sexual identity they have c) chose this look to rock while on vacation.  How did they become who they are?

There was a girl who used to take her dog to The Commons.  She would often talk through her dog Shadow in this dorky-alien-like voice.  She would say things like ‘Shadow says that mommy says that she wants a Starbuuuccckkks, so we have to go’.   She was a lawyer and had recently moved back from Toronto after a breakup.  Both of her parents were doctors (Psychiatrists in fact – this is important to note as you read on) – although she was a very educated girl, she said some of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard someone say (not always through the voice of the dog).  One day when talking about ways to increase biking in Halifax, with a guy who works for The Ecology Action Centre, she said ‘I don’t really care what my cars do to the environment.  I have two of them. One is an SUV and one is a BMW.  They both have leather seats, I crank the air conditioning, I drive to the office when I should walk and I love it.’ Okay.   There was a really interesting guy who used to come every now and again.  He worked on a sailboat that trained kids in adventure sailing.  One day when talking about kids and how so many have ‘conditions’ these days he said some more exercise, fresh air, less screen time and good food could change a lot of their behaviours (true).  Old Captain Polarizing drops that she thinks kids need more medication and therapy.  He said back to her – they would need less medication and therapy if they exercised and ate better.  She said – you are wrong.  Both of my parents are Psychiatrists and a  lot of them are just messed up and need medication.  He said – you are wrong.  I bet you are on medication as it is apparent that you are indeed crazy.  How did she become who she is at such a young age and how in the world did she find someone to date her?

I always love seeing how people react when they are put under just a little bit of pressure. Last year I was on a flight which went through Boston and due to switching terminals I had to go through security at Logan.  It was busy in the security line and one of the TSA guys decided to reroute some of us to feed into another line up.  Unfortunately, when he did this he moved one of the ropes wrong and we ended up on a road to nowhere.  Now, this error on his behalf was quite simple and easily fixable.  Well, well, well, did I ever see some Americans get their feathers fluffed.  ‘What the hell is going on here anyway.  You have us going nowhere.’ (add in the Boston accent and it makes it way better). Another says ‘I demand to be put to the front of the line.  People who were behind us are now in front of us.’  Wow, I would hate to see what they are like when they are faced with a real problem.  How did they become who they are?  Where did they learn to flip out and overreact?

While I was in university I worked at Shoppers Drug Mart.  First as a cashier and then as a pharmacist assistant.  Working in a drug store allowed me to see a wide range of people doing very strange things.  The day the flyer came out there was a stampede of cheapies who came in to stock up.  God I hated having to tell someone the shipment of toilet paper didn’t come in and that I would have to give them a rain check – they would act like I just spit in their face.  Where is the sex jelly, one guy with really bad buck teeth asked me once.  Another guy tried to hand me his used tube of anal cream that had a ‘hair’ stuck to it.  One day when I was working the front cash a real ringer came up to me.  He was wearing really bad jean cut offs and flip up sunglasses (nearly as bad as the afore mentioned solar shields).  He was asking me where this place called The Pub was.  Unfortunately he was pronouncing it the way  you would pronounce the type of hair that was attached to the afore mentioned tube of anal cream.  So I said ‘Pipers PUB’ is around the corner at the lights.  Just then a very attractive woman came up to the cash and this guy caught sight of her.  The way he talked reminded me of Cousin Eddie on National Lampoon.  He said ‘Wow.  Look at you. (he said that part very slowly) Where are you going because that is where I want to be.’  She was fairly confused by his forwardness (I mean this was Shoppers Drug Mart in a small town) and she clearly was very out of his league.   How in the world did this guy become such a massive power geek who thought he could approach a woman in this manner?  He must be immune to the word no, and well, he was American so his perception of self might have been a bit inflated.

What would I do if there weren’t any characters floating around?  I wouldn’t have as much to write about.  Let’s be honest people who are normal are boring after all.  Can’t really write about how I witnessed someone wearing Ray Bans walk around taking pictures of Halifax with their iPhone.   People who are a little less vanilla are right up my alley.  In the words of Bonnie Raitt – they give me something to talk about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A steel fist in a velvet glove

9 Oct

mom-quote

The fall is always a nostalgic time of year for me – schools get into swing, the leaves turn color and Thanksgiving weekend rolls around.  Contrary to popular opinion I am not a lover of Thanksgiving dinner. So much work and so many dishes for a meal that (for me) is underwhelming.   Mom and Dads’ kitchen is not particularly large and Mom (how do I put this) is rather, ummm, bossy when she is in there.  Mom is not a chef with papers, but boy she can handle herself in the kitchen just as well as Jamie Oliver, Rachel Ray or Mario Batali. This weekend it is just me home so we decided to keep it simple and not prepare a meal fit for a small country.  Over the years Mom has produced more food, for more people than Michelin produces tires.  On the topic of Mom and since it is Thanksgiving I will tell you about her.

My mother is an extremely capable, selfless and productive human being.  Last night we were invited over to friends of our family for dinner.  During our after dinner conversation Kathy (our hostess) said ‘Emilie, can you tell me if you’ve ever seen your mother just do nothing for a day?’ Honestly, unless she was down and out with some kind of an ailment I couldn’t remember ever seeing her just be lazy.  Mom was a nurse doing shift work until I was in grade 9 and after that moved to management where she worked Monday to Friday. It would be nothing for her to make us a gourmet breakfast, send us off to school with lunches all made from scratch (I often traded her homemade cookies for a can of caramel pudding or a Flaky- you always want what you don’t have), wash the walls, clean out a flowerbed and head off to a 12 hour shift at the hospital.  About 10 years ago Mom had to have her thyroid taken out.  The doctors said she had a very hyper thyroid (in overdrive), so finally we had an answer as to why this woman never seemed to run out of energy. After her surgery it took quite sometime to get her TSH levels regulated and so she felt tired and might fall asleep in the chair.  Very unusual.  My father (who could be described as being as laid back as a Saint Bernard) said he loved that Mom was exhibiting laziness as it made him feel human.  Fast forward to now, it seems that her natural determination has made up for her biological changes.  What this woman achieves in a week should be analyzed by productivity experts as I think she could teach them a few things.  One year Dad said he was going to get her a miners lamp for a gift so that she could continue working after dark.

I love how perspective allows you to see things more clearly.  At my age my mother had 4 children.  In fact, I am shocked that I was even conceived as mom had awful pregnancies with terrible morning sickness and many other complications.  Thankfully they went for a 4th and got me.  A few years ago on mothers day I took my Mom and Grandma out for lunch.  Mom said ‘thank you’ when we were done and I said ‘thanks for giving birth to me’.  To which she said ‘it was quite the strenuous affair, you were posterior’.  My 90 year old grandmother piped up and said ‘that is nothing you came out feet first Janice.’

On top of that a full-time job, a husband, a house, a massive property with gardens galore, and animals, she somehow managed to cook, pickle and jam it all, visit family, maintain friendships, keep a clean house, plan/host most any event happening in our lives, cart us around to our sports/after school bits, and keep my 3 gong show brothers in line. We always had friends over which meant she was cooking for more than 6 on a regular basis. She starts thinking about Christmas at least 11 months in advance – making quilts for each us or dolls for the grand kids.  Honestly, when I compare my days to hers it makes me feel a wee bit self absorbed… as I get my nails done and sip a latte.   I talk to Mom daily on the phone.  Sometimes it is 5 minutes and sometimes it is an hour. General gab about the day, what is happening at home, what we cooked for dinner and what is on deck for the next day.  Nowadays we are more friends than Mother/Daughter.

When I was a kid I didn’t look at my mother as leader – I looked at her as my mom.  As an adult I now see she has all of the attributes of a great leader – loyalty, patience, generousity, responsibility, determination, trustworthiness, supportive and selflessness.  When you have a great leader you are bound to be more successful in life.   On the outside she comes across as a total softie, but in reality she is a steel fist in a velvet glove.  Donald Trump should get an injection of her modesty.  In the words of Mother Teresa ‘if you want to change the world go home and love your family.’  Thanks for doing that Mom.

 

 

What a difference a year makes…

6 Oct

image.jpeg

Last weekend I had the great fortune of going to Montreal with girlfriends to see Adele in concert.  I told my younger male cousin I was going to see her and he replied ‘Wow, that is really cool.  But what do you do just stand there and cry the whole time?’  I can see how he would think that seeing as 90% of her songs are about past relationships and breakups.

Last year at this time I went through a breakup (I didn’t write any songs about it) and although I feel 100% thankful to be outta that relationship, it certainly wasn’t a fun experience.  One year ago this weekend it was coming to a breaking point – I wasn’t feeling so ‘thankful’ last Thanksgiving.  It culminated on a trip to Ireland a week later when I had to hold myself back from pushing him off the Cliffs of Maher.  I won’t get into specifics, but I put on my big girl panties and forged forward.  Life can be tough, but so am I. What a difference a year makes.

I was 35 then and I am now 36.  I’ve never been one to be preoccupied with what I ‘should’ be doing at particular ages, but sometimes it does come to mind when your friends/siblings are celebrating anniversaries and having kids.  I’ve gone to more wedding showers, weddings, baby showers, baptisms and housewarmings than I can count.   But then I snap back to my reality and stop comparing myself to others.  So, I am not married and I don’t have kids.  I’ve always hated the term ‘baggage’ when referring to ones children, past relationships, etc.  It is quite funny at this age as it seems having ‘baggage’ is the norm and if you don’t there might be something wrong with you too.  Do you have children. No?  Have you been married? No.  Why not?  Jesus, ummm, because I haven’t met someone I want to get married to and have kids with?

When I think of it I don’t often hear people who are married claim that they are ‘so happy’.  Is it really the be-all-end-all?   With maturity I’ve realized that being ‘happy’ isn’t obtained through someone else and if anything being single allows you to really know yourself, stand on your own, develop interests, exercise, go out of your comfort zone, maintain tight friendships, volunteer and travel – which are all things that contribute to making you feel ‘happy’ and things I do on a daily basis.  Of course companionship, having a partner and getting some arse adds to that.

Dog-park John, I know you are reading this and I know you are hoping for some funny stuff.   Of course with being single comes dating and it always seems great stories follow me wherever I go.   The main difference with dating now is that online seems to be the main way people meet and with that comes the reality that people are dating multiple people at the same time.    God in the past it took a $100 investment to maybe find someone to go on a date with – new dress, wine, taxi, cover charge, drinks — only to have some greaser who was too drunk hit on you.   Now, in the comfort of your home in your pjs you can swipe through the local talent.  I am very selective, so I really haven’t had any of the horror stories I’ve heard from other women, but my very first date was far from ideal.  Since all of the men who come into my life acquire terms of reference; let’s call him ‘Chef Clooney’ because he was a chef and looked like a dramatic George Clooney in his pics.  Well he didn’t look like that in person.  We went for sushi and his phone rang in the middle of dinner.  He said he had to take it (but stayed at the table).  For the next 13 minutes he slaughtered his ex on the phone with whomever he was talking to.  Do you know how long 13 minutes feels when you are sitting at a table with someone who you are not attracted to listening to them talk about their ex having Chrons and how he made her special food and how since he pays her phone bills he knows who she talks to.  WTF???  I’ve never eaten a maki roll so fast or felt more suddenly tired.  There has been many dates since then from setups to online and every way in between.  Other than ‘Australian Peter’ no one has really turned my head until recently.  Let’s call this guy ‘The Actor’ (because he is one for his job and perhaps figuratively too). It took a bit for our schedules to collide, but when they did a real collision happened. Although I am an open creature I generally keep my cards pretty close, but this guy he laid it on real thick – you are hot, you are smart, you are funny, you are interesting, your eyes, your voice, your smell.  Flattered and feeling like a super model – he got under my skin with his sense of humor, cleverness, commonalities, comfort and cuteness.  Over the next bit we saw each other/talked a lot.  He came to a big event I organized for my work (which was kind of a big deal as the tickets were pricey and it was the same night as a big event for his industry).  He said I was very impressive.  And then.  Pouf!  He kind of vanished.   Leaves a girl wondering… oh it MUST be because he is newly separated, oh it MUST be because he is busy at work (and you know how men can’t handle more than one thing at a time), oh it MUST be because we’ve both been travelling.  Yesterday while at work my phone rang in the middle of the afternoon and there he was.  Just like a groundhog he came out of his hole.  In reality he is dating multiple people and juggling ladies just like a circus performer – and he is newly separated, busy with work and we’ve both been travelling.  A few years ago a 44 year old newly single guy would be relegated to being set up or dragging his married buddies to the bar to seek out some babes.  Now all you have to do is throw a couple pictures up and boom you have access to many other single people.  This is the reality of new age dating.  Temptation Island and ‘the next best thing’ is at your fingertips.  All the time.  It is like being on a real life episode of The Bachelor.  And for a newly seperated 44 year old guy I am sure that is quite a pump to the ego.

So here I am one year latet – I don’t live in my very nice house anymore and my eggs are one year older.  The only two (sort of) negative things I can think of.  I do have a sweet place of my own and in the last year I’ve  travelled lots, done great work, volunteered, learned new skills, spent terrific times with friends/family and met many fabulous men.  And who knows, maybe someday this Lochness Monster of a man I am looking for will saunter into my life.  If and when that happens it will be amazing, but in the meantime I am quite happy writing the story of my life as a single girl.